Storytelling 201: How to market and sell with stories

Who here loves to sell?

While I can’t see you through my monitor, I bet nearly everyone is shaking their heads, “Nope!”

Yet for those of us who run our blogs as a business, that’s essentially what we’re hired to do: Sell either the brand or a specific product that brand manufactures. Whether you participate in influencer marketing campaigns, create and sell your own products, sell services like consulting, or work directly with brands, you’re selling.

If you are someone who, like me, feels uncomfortable with the idea of “selling” or you don’t want to come off as “salesy” to your readers, I’m here to reassure you: You can be an effective professional blogger, sell a brand or product, and appeal to your audience, all in one post!


Tell a story!

Last week we covered Storytelling 101: why and how to tell stories. Today, I want to dig into how to use storytelling techniques to write branded, sponsored, or paid content. It’s a key skill for bloggers to develop.

3 Steps to Sell with Story:

  1. Weave a narrative.
    Instead of writing specifically about a product, write a story about how the product integrates into your own life or how it solved a problem for you. Instead of: ABC cat litter has this odor technology that works by XYZ. Try: When we hosted Thanksgiving for the first time last year, we didn’t realize that our guests could smell the litter box at the dining table… We were too used to it! Then, Aunt Gladys mentioned ABC litter to us in her “thanks for hosting/here’s a tip” email. This year, we’re not going to tell anyone about the switch and see if anyone notices the litter odor!
  2. Infuse the selling points into your prose.
    It’s tempting and easy to copy and paste from a brand’s press release or content kit. But it’s a huge turn-off to readers because, frankly, it’s boring! Sure, you need to include the points that the brand hired you to share, or the key selling points of the product you’ve created. The trick is to find a way to add the required points to your story without breaking the narrative arc. For example: We decided to swap out our old litter for the new gradually. We didn’t want Newt to revolt and choose another (shoes) spot to go. As we did the switch, it was clear right away that the XYZ technology worked, and my shoes remained pee-free.
  3. Make the images uniquely your own. Yes, the brand probably requires a couple images, like their logo and maybe a product shot. Get creative and make them your own. Consider a collage or overlay, or take standout photography that will capture your readers’ attention far more than a single product shot.

Bottom line: Any guidelines, press releases, or selling points provided by the brand or your sales sheet are just the facts. As an influencer, it’s your job to sell the product, but you can do it authentically and with heart by telling a story.

It’s more fun to write and far more interesting for your readers to read!

How do you turn your posts into stories? What non-salesy sales tactics do you use?

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